Reevaluating Federal Security Clearance Procedures – Plus the DorobekINSIDER’s 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

But up front:

  • The Day in Obamacare Apologies, Glitches, and Fights: the president travels to Massachusetts, the birthplace of the idea for Obamacare, to speak on the benefits and challenges of the new healthcare legislation.  

  • The Unveiling of the Second U.S. Open Government National Action Plan: the Obama administration has released its new goals for the Second U.S. Open Government National Action Plan, as reported by the White House. These goals, as listed on WhiteHouse.gov, are centered around the following objectives:

    • Improving the administration and management of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

    • Encouraging the adoption of the President’s open data initiatives throughout the federal government to promote entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic growth

    • Increasing fiscal and corporate transparency

    • Managing public resources more effectively

    • Promoting greater citizen engagement and empowerment

  • Significant Drops in the U.S. Budget Deficit: the Treasury Department has announced that the U.S. budget deficit is the lowest that it has been in the past five years due to a combination of tax increases, spending cuts, and an improving economy.

 

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. A GAO investigation has found that 8,400 federal workers and contractors with active security clearances have amassed $8.5 million in delinquent tax debt. NBC News reports that three-fourths of these individuals accumulated their tax debt after obtaining their security clearances. A Senate hearing today on the GAO’s findings is meant to evaluate the financial monitoring of federal employees, especially those with access to sensitive government data.

  2. The Senate confirmed Katherine Archuleta to be the head of the Office of Personnel Management this week. The Federal Times notes that she will be the first Hispanic to hold this position and will be replacing John Berry, who left OPM in April to serve as the Ambassador to Australia.

  3. The Justice Department has decided to back a whistleblower lawsuit against U.S. Investigations Services (USIS), which allegedly has neglected to complete background investigations on individuals applying for a security clearance. More specifically, USIS is being charged with submitting incomplete background investigations to OPM, claiming that they were complete for the purpose of obtaining more contracts and revenue from the agency. The Federal Times reports that the Justice Department is currently supporting the False Claims Act suit by Blake Percival, a former director of fieldwork services at USIS, and that it intends to file its own complaint against USIS by January 22.

  4. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius apologized in a congressional hearing this week for the problems associated with the site, Healthcare.gov, stating that lawmakers should hold her accountable for the site’s malfunctions. Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee questioned Sebelius concerning evidence that the administration knew about the site’s issues and decided to press forward with its release. The Washington Post notes that Sebelius acknowledged that the site had one security flaw prior to its release that could allow hackers to obtain private information about users. Even so, Sebelius emphasized that no such security breach occurred and that the site’s security problem has since been addressed.

  5. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) have introduced new legislation known as the Enhanced Security Clearance Act of 2013. The bipartisan bill aims to improve how OPM manages the security clearances of federal employees and contractors by increasing the frequency of OPM’s clearance evaluations of current employees. Federal News Radio states that if enacted, the bill would require OPM to conduct random, automated reviews of employees with security clearances twice every five years. The review process would include an analysis of public records and databases and focus on investigating an individual’s criminal and financial background.

  6. Documents obtained from former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, reveal that the NSA has infiltrated the main communication links connecting Yahoo and Google data centers around the globe. The Washington Post notes that by accessing those links, the NSA can obtain large amounts of data from millions of user accounts. NSA’s outgoing director, Gen. Keith Alexander, argues that the agency has not overstepped the privacy boundaries of U.S. citizens. Alexander, as FCW reports, instead argues against Congress’ current attempts to limit the broad collection of U.S. citizens’ private information, stating that such limitations are a risk to national security.

  7. IBM has withdrawn its injunction to halt progress on the $600 million cloud computing contract between the CIA and Amazon Web Services. FCW observes that IBM chose to withdraw its appeal when the CIA filed documentation with the federal court system stating that any further delay on the project would be a threat to national security. 

 

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